By: Julia Love
Issue date: 6/5/08 Section: News
Many elite universities have reached deep into their waitlists this year, making dreams come true for some applicants who had written off their top choice school for Fall.
Two hundred students who were once unsure of their statuses as future Blue Devils will join the Class of 2012 from the waitlist, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph Guttentag said.
He attributed the increase in waitlist acceptances-about 40 more students than last year-to a spike in waitlist admissions at Harvard, Princeton and Yale.
"We can see the effects of a couple of schools having admitted students off the waitlist," Guttentag said. "This is exactly what happens when schools like Harvard and Yale take people off their waitlists."
In May, Harvard expected to take 150 to 175 students from its waitlist this year, Princeton planned to accept 90 and Yale was looking to offer admission to 45 applicants, the schools' deans of admissions told The New York Times.
Additionally, the University of Pennsylvania accepted 90 applicants from its waitlist this year, exceeding last year's total by 35 students, said the university's Interim Dean of Admissions Eric Kaplan.
"We're sort of in a wait-and-see mode at this point," he said. "Our class looks very good. We're holding steady right now, but there are external factors we can't control, like the waitlist admissions at other schools."
An unusually large class of high school seniors, the elimination of early action programs at several of Duke's peer institutions-including Harvard, Princeton and the University of Virginia-and drastic changes to the financial aid landscape have made for one of the most unforeseeable years in admissions on record, Guttentag said.
"This is probably the least predictable year that I've seen in admissions in the 26 years I've been working," he said. "I've never seen so many changes at one time that affect us fairly directly."
Kaplan said the elimination of early action programs at other institutions altered the composition of UPenn's applicant pool. Top students who had previously sent their applications to only Harvard or Princeton applied to a broader range of schools last year, resulting in significantly more overlap among admitted students, he explained.
"In the past there were students who applied exclusively to Harvard or Princeton, and with the elimination of those schools' early action programs many of them applied to [UPenn] as well," he said. "We certainly admitted them in very high numbers. Sometimes they chose [UPenn], but many times they chose Harvard or Princeton."
Despite the fact that a larger proportion of students did not make Duke's first cut, the Class of 2012 is no less accomplished than the classes that preceded it, Guttentag said.
Duke received a record-breaking number of applications this year, and Guttentag approximated there are 100 more students to whom he could easily offer admission.
"This is a class that is at least as qualified as we've had in the past and may very well be more diverse than we've had in the past," he said.
With college admissions still more fiercely competitive than ever, admissions officers at UPenn said they have enjoyed the opportunity to send out a few more precious "thick envelopes" this year, Kaplan said.
"This is a real treat for a lot of people on our staff to be able to call students and just really make their day," he said.